Forming A Theology Of The End Times

Lately it seems that I have been having a lot of conversations with individuals about the end times.  Not sure if it is a certain time of year that this topic comes around or not?  Regardless, I decided to make today's posting on the subject of the End Times.  Well, to be more specific, I am going to make it on how one Biblically interprets eschatology.  

As many of you already know there are 3 major views on the end times.  They are:
  • Premillennialism 
  • Postmillennialism
  • Amillenialism
While I am not going to spend time debating and expounding on these 3 positions, let me offer up a couple of insights and questions for you in the Biblical interpretation of the End Times.
  1. The first is that clearer passages of scripture always need to interpret less clear passages of scripture.  Too often I see individuals appealing to and building their end times theology on the symbolism of Revelation while totally ignoring much clearer and straightforward passages on the end times, such as Jesus' comments in Mark 16:3-37 and Matthew 24:3-51.  Are you using clear passages of scripture to help enlighten less clear passages of scripture?
  2. In connection to the previous point, how does Jesus' comments on the end times in Mark 16:3-37 and Matthew 24:3-51 impact our reading of books like Daniel and Revelation?  Jesus' understanding of the end times should shape and govern our interpretive stance of handling the end times, especially our stance towards much of the symbolism in the books of Daniel and Revelation.  How does Jesus and His thoughts on the end times impact your interpretation of end times texts? 
  3. Thirdly, how does one understand the overall flow of the book of Revelation?  Let me explain.  In Revelation, John records his major visions in a way that they describe a different aspect of the same time period… namely the New Testament Era.  In applying the spiral method to Revelation, John’s visions are not to be explained as if they were successive to each other chronologically.  He describes the same NT Era from different angles, views, and/or perspectives.  See the following: John's Spiral Method.  So, if John writes with a spiral method and not from a linear perspective, how does that affect and effect one's view of the end times.  How do you understand Revelation, linear or spiral?  Does it matter?
  4. Finally, what are the fruits of a person's end times theology?  In studying the end times, whether in Revelation or the words of Jesus we gain a very clear picture that the overall theme of the end times is simply this, "God Wins and Jesus is coming back."  Too often this grand narrative of hope for the church is clouded, crowded or simply replaced with fear of the second coming.  Does your end times theology exalt Christ and show that God wins and Jesus is coming back for His church or is your end times theology bogged down with time tables, fear of the 2nd coming and endless speculation?  Maybe that is a harsh comment/question but certainly one that needs to be addressed.  Revelation was written not to instill fear but to grant the church confidence and boldness in Christ so that they would be strengthened in facing the challenges of the present and coming evil age.  It was written to show that victory is already ours in the risen Christ.  Our eschatology is based on hope/comfort not fear.  
Revelation 1:17-18, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.  I died, and behold I am alive forevermore and I have the keys of Death and Hades."